STUART THORNTo develop regional capacity through community-based enterprise with emphasis on shared workshops and business incubator enterprises - Spain, USA, U.K.
The original inspiration for my fellowship application was the work I was involved in with establishing Huon Valley Financial Services Ltd, the franchise owners of the Geeveston & Dover Community banks. This activity proved to me that with the right support regional communities could achieve great things. Huon Valley Financial Services Ltd has gone on to open another 2 branches in the Huon and return over $1.2 million back to the communities on projects that have direct benefit.
The benefits of Churchill fellowship are numerous. The immediate benefit was having the opportunity of visit likeminded individuals and organisations and being able participate in local activities and events in the USA and England and Spain. Of particular impact was the activities run by Connie Loden, from the Heart of Wisconsin Business and Economic Alliance. The Alliance runs an annual celebration of the activities and achievements of local organisation. This public acknowledges builds community support and understanding on the needs of their communities.
The longer-term benefit of my fellowship has been the confirmation of my belief that local communities need to own the issues they face and they need to work collectively to address those issues. Local initiatives gaining traction in Tasmania are activities such as Burnie Big, a regional response to agreed issues based on the Collective Impact model.
FELLOWSHIP CONCLUSIONS & OUTCOMES
In my current position with the Peter Underwood Centre for Educational Attainment I work with regional Tasmanian communities in developing strategies addressing issues around student retention and attainment. For any activity in this space to have a long lasting impact local communities need to understand that educational attainment is a community wide issue not just the responsibility of education providers.
When not working or thinking about work I enjoy bushwalking, fly-fishing the remote Tasmanian lakes and of course home renovation.